The School of Night

True to Louis Bayard's form, the School of Night, his latest novel moves back and forth from Elizabethan England to the present day. Alonzo Wax, a prominent historical document collector has committed suicide. He has named as his executor Henry Cavendish an Elizabethan scholar with a somewhat tarnished past. Cavendish, who authenticated a poem by Walter Ralegh that was later determined to be a fake is approached by Bernard Styles a rival of Wax's. Styles offers Cavendish $100,000. to locate a document he claims Alonzo stole from him. This document, a letter from Ralegh, is said to prove the existence of the School of Night. The school was a secret debating club attended by Ralegh, Thomas Harriot, a scientist, and the playwright Christopher Marlow among others.

The plot races along shifting between present time and the Elizabethan period. Bayard always has a twist to his historical novels and this one is no different. The document contains more than just information about the school. It contains information about Harriot's scientific studies as well. Included in the intrigue about the letter and the suicide of Wax are several more murders, a torrid love affair between Cavendish and a mysterious woman he sees at the Alonzo's funeral and information about the great love between Harriot and a servant named Margaret.

What makes this book different from Bayard's others are that this book contains some humor. The humor serves to enhance the story making the characters seem more modern. An intelligent thriller, Bayard does not disappoint.

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